Short term study

If you undertake a course of study at Keele University that requires you to be based in the UK for 6 months or less, we'll issue you with the necessary documentation to apply for a Short Term Study (STS) Visa. A Short Term Study Visa allows you to enter the UK and study for a maximum of 6 months.

The process

For the majority of students on courses that are shorter than 6 months, who need a Visa to study in the UK, you will need to apply for a Short Term Study Visa previously known as Student Visitor Visa. A Short Term Study Visa allows you to enter the UK and study for up to 6 months and can be applied for prior to travelling to the UK or for some nationals, you can apply at the border.

The information within this guide is designed to help you prepare for your Short Term Study Visa (previously known as a Student Visitor Visa) application, from getting your supporting letter and advising if you need to apply for your Visa in advance or if you are able to obtain it upon arriving in the UK and any possible interview you need to attend. 

If your course requires you to have the right to work, such as if the course contains a work placement - paid or unpaid - you will need a Tier 4 General Visa, even if your course is less than 6 months. If you believe this applies to you please contact the Immigration Compliance Team by email to

If you are a ‘Visa National’ then you will need to apply for a Visa prior to arriving to the UK. You will need to leave yourself plenty of time to obtain your Visa and travel to Keele by the start date of the course; however you cannot apply more than 3 months prior to the start date of the course as stated on your supporting letter. You can find out how long it takes to process a visa in your home country on the UKVI website.

You will need to make your application online unless you are from North Korea in which case you have to make a paper based application. You apply online using the following link

When you apply you will do the following:

  • Register an account with the UKVI
  • Complete the online application form
  • Pay for the application
  • Make an appointment to have your biometrics taken

When you complete the online application you will need to ensure that you are applying for the correct type of visa. In the “Select Visa Type” section of the application choose the following options from the drop down list.

Type of visa: Visit Purpose of application: Special Visitor Type of application: (Special) Student Visitor, up to 6 months

Whether you make an online or paper based application, you will need to make a biometric appointment to have your fingerprints and photo taken. These are a mandatory part of any visa application to the UK.

Once you have completed and paid for your application and booked your biometric appointment you will need to submit your documents to the UKVI.

Normally you will send them through the post. After completing your application you will be sent an acknowledgement email from the UKVI which will instruct you where to send your documents. You will need to submit the following documents:

  • A printed off copy of your on-line application
  • Your passport
  • Passport photos
  • Supporting Letter from Keele University Immigration Compliance Team
  • Financial information
  • Accommodation and travel details
  • Qualifications (if started on your supporting letter)
  • Additional documents (if required)

If you are from North Korea and making a paper based application you will need to complete the VAF1D application form. For more information about how to make a paper based application please see the UKVI website.

Once you have a decision on your Visa application you must send a scanned copy of your Short Term Study Visa (STSV) and the decision letter from the UKVI to the University’s Immigration Compliance Team by emailing

If you meet the requirements and send the required evidence, you should expect  your Short Term Study Visa to be granted. However, if you have not provided Keele with accurate information and details of any previous study in the UK you visa may be refused. Therefore it is very important to make sure that you get your application right the first time.

If you do not send in all of the original documents required, the UK Home Office will not contact you to ask for missing documents. Incomplete or incorrect applications will be refused. If your application is refused you must send a copy of your refusal letter to

If you are from a smaller country or territory that has limited access to UK embassies you may be expected to travel to a neighbouring country to have your biometrics taken and to complete the application. You will have to remain in that country until they have processed your application as you will have submitted your passport as part of the application.

It would also be a good idea to prepare some information to show that you intend to leave the UK at the end of your period of study. This may be proof of employment, proof of property or strong family links in your country. This sort of information is usually more important for countries which the UK Home Office (UKVI) consider higher risk and will be more suspicious about a student’s motives for entering the UK.


Frequently asked questions

You should make your visa application as early as possible. However, you cannot apply any more than three months before the start date of your course, as stated on the supporting letter issued by the Immigration Compliance Team. If you use any other letter than the one issued by the Immigration Compliance Team or if you submit your application before that, it will be refused. Students on a Short Term Study Visa must leave the UK on or before the end date of their Visa.

Depending upon the programme you will be coming to the University to study, you will be in contact with either the Global Education Team or Immigration Compliance Team prior to having an offer of a place to study / needing to complete exams in the UK.

  • Students coming on study abroad programmes or short programmes through the Global Education Team, they will contact the Immigration Compliance team to request your supporting letter.
  • Students who are returning to undertake exams / viva or on a programme that is taught by distance learning or a bespoke research placement will need to contact their School / Faculty Research Office / Research Institute and the Immigration Compliance Team at least 3 months prior to needing to be in the UK to request a supporting letter.

Under the current UK Home Office rules, although you are able to study up to a maximum of 30 days on a Standard Visitor Visa, your primary purpose for coming to the UK cannot be for study. This exception is designed for tourists who come to the UK on a holiday and then chose to undertake a short language / practical course, not for study in the UK at a University. You cannot switch from a Standard Visitor Visa into a Short Term Study Visa whilst in the UK and therefore this exception cannot be used.

Where you can apply for a Short Term Study Visa depends if you are defined by the UKVI as a ‘Visa National’ or not.

  • ‘Visa Nationals’: must apply in advance for Entry Clearance and in their home country / country of permanent residence. Please see the section below on applying for Entry Clearance.
  • ‘Non Visa Nationals’: i.e. those people who have a passport which is not listed as a ‘Visa National’ can get a Visa Stamp at the UK Border when you arrive / land in the UK. When you arrive in the UK you must have your supporting letter from the University with you to ensure you get the correct Visa Stamp to study in the UK. If you get an incorrect stamp you would not be able to study and may need to leave the UK.

In the email, with your supporting letter from the Immigration Compliance Team at Keele University, it should state if you are a ‘Visa National’ or not. Decision making by the UK Home Office (UKVI) is subjective and the University cannot influence the decision, so do not give the UK Home Office a reason to doubt the validity of your application. Therefore you will need to make sure you supply sufficient evidence to support your application.

If you are a ‘Visa National’, as above, you will need to apply for your Visa in advance and from outside of the UK. The Visa processing times do vary from country to country. However we do advise you to allow yourself plenty of time to make your application and receive your visa, prior to your start date at Keele. You cannot apply more than 3 months prior to the start date at Keele as stated on your supporting letter from the Immigration Compliance Team. You can find out how long it takes to process a visa in your home country on the UKVI website.

If you are a ‘Non Visa National’ you will need to apply for the Visa at the UK border which will be a stamp in your Passport, therefore you will need at least 1 empty page in your passport. Please make sure you leave plenty of time between landing / entering the UK and any transfers you book as it is highly likely you will have to queue at the UK border to see a UK Border Officer.

All Short Term Study Visas are valid for a maximum of 6 months from the start date or date of issue (stamp in passport). This 6 month period is the maximum allowed within a 12 month period. For example you can have a Short Term Study Visa starting in January which would expire in June, after this you could not get another Short Term Study Visa until the January the following year. You cannot extend or switch into or out of a Short Term Study Visa in the UK.

If you make an application in advance please ensure that you provide the information and documents as stated in the Visa application form submitted through the Visa4UK service (from the Foreign Commonwealth Office – FCO) to the UK Home Office. In general for Visa applications in advance (known as entry clearance) or a Visa at the UK Border, you will need to provide.

  1. Supporting Letter from Keele University Immigration Compliance Team
  2. Your passport
  3. Passport photos
  4. Qualifications (if stated on your supporting letter)
  5. Details of your current course of study; if you are already enrolled but studying abroad and entering the UK for a short period as part of your course you should contact the academic department in your home institution and ask them to provide a letter. This letter should confirm your enrolment and the periods you need to enter the UK for face to face study.
  6. Information about your finances and employment; you should prepare at least 3 months of bank statements to show that you have funds to cover yourself whilst you are in the UK. You may also want to provide a letter from your employer as well. If you have a scholarship make sure you obtain a letter from your provider confirming their sponsorship for the period you will be in the UK. It would also be a good idea to show you have medical/travel insurance to cover the period of your study
  7. Your return or onward travel information (for example - return flight tickets)
  8. Details of your accommodation in the UK, if you have booked University Halls of residence, please print off your Keele University Accommodation boarding pass.
  9. Additional documents (if required)

The Academic Technological Approval Scheme (ATAS) is a requirement for any student who is not a UK, EEA or Swiss National or does not have Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK, who is intending to study a course that requires an ATAS certificate.

If you are a visiting research student and you are studying/ undertaking research in certain sensitive subjects (primarily science based) you may be required to apply for and be granted an ATAS certificate.

This is mainly for visiting PhD and Master’s Degree by Research Students and depends upon the research that you are undertaking. If you require an ATAS certificate, your Research Area or Keele visit co-ordinator should inform you during the admissions process. If you require ATAS, an ATAS certificate must be provided to the University before any supporting documents for visa applications will be issued and the ATAS certificate must be supplied with the visa application. Further details about ATAS are available here.

A Short Term Study Visa, like any other Visitor visa does not allow any type of work, carry out any business or intend to be self-employed or involved in business activities or professional activity in the UK (UK Home Office define Work as; paid, unpaid or voluntary). Short-term students can volunteer but may not do voluntary work. You must be clear on the difference between the two:

Voluntary workers:

  • often have a contract with their employer (this means the employer must provide the work and the voluntary worker must attend at particular times and carry out specific tasks).
  • voluntary workers are also usually remunerated in kind


  • do not have a contract of employment
  • must not take the place of an employee
  • must not receive payment in kind but reimbursement for reasonable travel and subsistence expenses is allowed

More information on work can be found in the ‘working in the UK’ section.

Short Term Visas cannot be extended in the UK and cannot be used to study a longer full time course where a Short Term Study Visa is being used to continuously come in, leave and then return to the UK. Therefore if you enter the UK on a Short Term Study Visa you will need to exit the UK before applying for new leave to enter. Short Term Study Visas allow for a maximum period of 6 months of study within a 12 month period.


A guide designed to help students apply for a short term study visa

PDF (487 KB)

Principle statement: accuracy of information

The information provided in this guidance is for reference only and is based upon the University’s understanding of the UK Immigration rules, Sponsor requirements Guidance at the time of publishing: 11/01/2018. For the avoidance of doubt any Short Term Study Visa application is made at the students own risk and; that a student is required to ensure that they have read, understood and meet the requirements outlined in the UK Home Office (UKVI) Short Term Study Visa Guidance (available online here) and that a decision on any Visa application is made by the UKVI.

Information correct as of date of publishing - Last update 04 May 2018.